In 2007 Chicago introduced its Climate Action Plan that addressed everything from infrastructure to ecosystems. The plan outlines a grim picture of energy demands and their associated cost implications. The projections and impacts report on infrastructure notes:
As the average temperature and number of extreme heat days increases, the cost to retrofit buildings with cooling capabilities, and the subsequent energy cost of cooling buildings will increase. By the end of the century, the number of days per year requiring air conditioning could double under the lower emissions scenario and triple under the higher emissions scenario. Annual energy costs are 1 nearly fourteen times higher in the high emissions scenario than in low emissions scenario. Additionally, with more frequent, severe, and longer heat waves, energy demands will be greater, and could increase the likelihood of electricity shortages, leading to brown-outs or black-outs.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average residential electric bill in Indiana is around $110 (in 2015). Neighborhoods with trees are 3 to 6 degrees cooler than neighborhoods without, saving up to 25% of a home’s typical energy use. In South Bend, which has roughly 40,000 single family homes, that means a savings of $1.1M in month energy savings.
Our target should be to determine the largest tree deserts in the City as well as the areas with the highest urban temperatures and plant at least 10,000 trees in those areas. This will counter balance the steep discrepancy in trees cut down versus trees planted over the last 10 years in our public spaces.